Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Eminent Australian elected to UN Committee

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Federal Attorney-General
  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Jenny Macklin, Attorney-General Robert McClelland and , Bill Shorten, today announced that Professor Ron McCallum was elected to the United Nations Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the first meeting of countries that have ratified the convention.It is also the first United Nations convention to be ratified by the Rudd Government.

The nomination and election of Professor McCallum to the committee underlines the Rudd Government’s strong commitment to increase its engagement with the United Nations.

Professor McCallum, until recently the Dean of Law at the University of Sydney, continues a distinguished career.

As well as being a professor of law, Professor McCallum is also deputy Chair of the Board of Directors of Vision Australia, Chair of Radio for the Print Handicapped and the inaugural President of the Australian Labour Law Association.

In 2006 he was awarded an Order of Australia for services to academia and Australia’s disability sector.

Professor McCallum was the first totally blind person to have been appointed to a full professorship in any field at any university in Australia or New Zealand.

His election is a major achievement by Professor McCallum which is welcomed by the Australian Government.

He is an accomplished Australian and outstanding role model for people with disabilities.

He will make a substantial contribution not only to the establishment of the committee, but to advancing the rights of people with a disability on the international stage.

The committee is composed of 12 independent experts and has a key role in considering progress reports by countries on implementation of the obligations under the convention.

Areas covered by the convention include non-discrimination, awareness-raising of the rights of persons with disability, accessibility of the physical environment, transportation, information and communication technology, and services to enable independence and full participation of people with disability in society.

Professor McCallum’s election to the committee comes at a key time as the government pursues reforms on a number of fronts to improve choices, opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities.

As part of our social inclusion agenda, achieving better outcomes for people with disability and their families is a priority.

The Government’s priorities to improve the circumstances of people with disabilities include:

  • identifying and addressing barriers to employment opportunities for people with disabilities
  • reforming the Commonwealth/State and Territory Disability Agreement
  • examining opportunities for greater private and philanthropic investment into the disability sector
  • developing a National Disability Strategy for Australia to provide policy leadership and work together with the community to ensure the needs of people with disability and their families are addressed.

We must work harder to fully include people with disability in the social, economic and cultural life of the country.

The Government’s commitment to do so is reflected in its recent ratification of the United Nations convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.’

The National Disability Strategy will be an important mechanism to ensure that the principles underpinning the convention are incorporated into policies and programs affecting people with disability, their families and carers.

The Australian Government looks forward to working with the new committee.

More information is available on the UN CRPD and the Committee at: